MASKED MAN SETS SIGHTS ON STARTS

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Joshua Richards

SH­EFFIELD United’s ‘man in the mask’ Marc McNulty is hop­ing his Cap­i­tal One Cup win­ner against Southamp­ton will help end his su­per-sub tag.

The Scot­tish striker was given a rare start by boss Nigel Clough against Saints in the quar­ter-fi­nal and net­ted the only goal.

He pounced after an un­char­ac­ter­is­tic er­ror from Eng­land and Southamp­ton stop­per Fraser Forster to send the Blades into the last four – the same stage they reached in the FA Cup last term – where they will play Tot­ten­ham.

De­spite McNulty hit­ting his eighth goal of the cam­paign in Tues­day night’s home win, 11 of his 16 league ap­pear­ances that pre­ceded yes­ter­day’s visit from Walsall have come from the bench.

How­ever, the 22-year-old – wear­ing the mask for pro­tec­tion after sus­tain­ing a fa­cial in­jury in an in­ci­dent in a Scot­tish night­club which po­lice are in­ves­ti­gat­ing – is keen not to be­come syn­ony­mous with sav­ing his best for the fi­nal knock­ings.

“I’ve been used as a sub more than I’ve started,” said McNulty, one of nine Scots at Bra­mall Lane. “No-one wants to be on the bench and I don’t like the term su­per-sub. But when­ever I’ve been called upon I think I’ve done the business.

Amaz­ing

“It’s only my first sea­son down here and it does take time to get used to play­ing in this league. But the more games I play and the more time I get train­ing with the boys, the bet­ter player I will be.”

The for­mer Liv­ingston man’s im­me­di­ate con­cern is help­ing the Blades con­tinue their amaz­ing cup form to reach Wem­b­ley and main­tain their quest to play Cham­pi­onship foot­ball for the first time since 2011.

Man­ager Clough has over­seen 16 cup ties in his ten­ure and won 13, in­clud­ing vic­tory over Premier League high- fly­ers West Ham in this year’s Cap­i­tal One Cup. QPR are the next top-flight club set to try and over­come United when they meet in the FA Cup third round at the start of Jan­uary.

Then they have the en­tic­ing two-leg semi against Tot­ten­ham to look for­ward to later in the month. Spurs are at home in the first leg, with the re­turn at Bra­mall Lane.The win­ners will play ei­ther Chelsea or Liver­pool in the fi­nal.

“Tues­day was un­be­liev­able. It’s stuff you dream of,” added McNulty. “Last year we went on a bril­liant run in the FA Cup and there is great belief among the boys that we are good enough to give any­one a game on our day. We’ve al­ready been to West Ham and won this year.

“Wem­b­ley is in the back of our minds, but we have a semi­fi­nal to think about first of all. Over two legs we feel like we have a chance, es­pe­cially at Bra­mall Lane where the place will be crazy. The boys need to take con­fi­dence from th­ese re­sults, be­cause we have been a bit stop-start in the league.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

GLORY: Marc McNulty nets against Southamp­ton

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